Walker, Green remember '94 butterflies Navy notebook

March 14, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Brian Walker and Michael Green, Navy's senior co-captains, are the only holdovers from the 1994 NCAA ** squad that lost to top-seeded Missouri in the opening round of the West Regionals, 76-53.

As freshmen from small high schools, both admitted experiencing the jitters in their NCAA baptism.

"I was nervous, not knowing what to expect playing against a top-rated team," said Walker, the fiery, 5-foot-8 point guard who became a starter the middle of his freshman year.

"I settled down after a few minutes and we were down by only three [29-26] at halftime. But their second unit wore us down in the second half. But this Navy team is much deeper and athletic."

Green, the Mids' defensive stopper, had played only 35 minutes his freshman season before becoming a starter in the Patriot League tournament, replacing suspended Victor Mickel.

"Everything happened kind of fast," recalled Green. "Suddenly I was starting in an NCAA tournament. I played at a real small high school and seeing 15,000 people in the stands gave me butterflies.

Voted Navy's MVP last season, the 6-5 forward believes defense has been the key to the team's 20-win season.

lTC "Two or three years ago, we didn't have the personnel to play pressure defense," he said. "Now we force turnovers and score in transition. We don't have to rely on size."

Speaking of size, Green will have the unenviable task of guarding Utah's 6-10 All-American Keith Van Horn. But Navy coach Don DeVoe promises reinforcements.

Home on the range

Playing Utah, the Western Athletic Conference champion, rekindled memories for Devoe of his two-year coaching tour at Wyoming (1976-1978).

"Going from Virginia Tech to Wyoming was like culture shock," he recalled. "Back in Virginia, everything was green. Wyoming is semi-arid, lots of winter snow and tumbleweeds. But it made me become more of an outdoorsman, hunting and fishing like Daniel Boone."

Man that got away

Drew Hansen, Utah's brainy junior swing man, was heavily recruited by Navy after graduating from tiny Tooele High near Salt Lake. He was both All-State in basketball and a member of the National Honor Society as a straight-A student.

"He was an all-around student-athlete, perfect for the academy," said Navy assistant Dave Wojcik, who recruited him. "Only thing was that he was so skinny, he didn't meet the academy height and weight limits. But I'm sure that would have been waived."

Hansen, in fact, visited Annapolis and had committed to Navy when Utah's Rick Majerus made a belated bid and won out.

Said Majerus: "I took a couple of boosters with me when I made my recruiting pitch to Hansen. When they saw this scrawny-looking kid playing, they thought I was nuts. But they failed to measure how big his heart is."

At different times this season, Hansen has played every position but center.

"He's just one of the smartest players I've ever coached," said Majerus. "But he's also such a fierce competitor. That's what Navy's team reminds me of -- a team of five Drew Hansens."

Chip off the block

DeVoe got a call the other day from a man named Phil Doleac.

"At first, it didn't ring a bell," said DeVoe, "but then he reminded me that I'd coached him at Army when he was a freshman in "Of course, his son, Michael, is now the starting center at Utah. He's 6-11 and 269, and developed into a player with a real future. I guess we should have kept closer ties."

Spy uncovered?

When a reporter asked Georgetown coach John Thompson %% for a scouting report on first-round opponent UNC-Charlotte, Thompson countered: "Are you the beat writer?' If you are, I'm not telling you what I think."

Thompson was just joking. we think.

Page turner

After having the intimidating post presence of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo as the focal point of his Hoyas offense, Thompson in recent years has turned the ball over to Allen Iverson and current shooting guard Victor Page, who is averaging 22.8 points. No other Hoya is scoring in double figures.

"TV guys talk about balanced scoring. That's nice if you have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball. On our team, it's Page's job to shoot and score. All kids want to shoot the ball, but it's a lot more pressure when the coach tells you to shoot it."

Pub Date: 3/14/97 %%

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